Ask Liam McDonald what he likes best about mountain biking during the winter, and the answer is simple: “Snow.”

The 12-year-old from western Wisconsin and his coach father routinely travel across state lines to race, but last weekend was McDonald’s first race on a fat bike.

The Cold Catfish Cup drew a couple hundred mountain bicyclists and their fans to Carver Lake Park Off-Road Cycling Trail on Sunday. The Elite race measured 18 miles, while the Sport race was six. Cyclists rode on paved trails, a Carver Lake loop, and through the woods on a single track.

McDonald, a veteran of the Twin Cities-based Minnesota Mountain Bike Series and a participant in the Sport heat Sunday in Woodbury, likes sliding around on his mountain bike - and the sport is better than cross-country skiing, he said.

“The course was a blast,” said Jeremy Staff, who came from the Winona area for the Elite race. “The conditions were slick. It was fast on the lake, and there were places where people were piling up.”

While Staff expects to compete in three or four other winter races this season, Kyle Nossaman of Minneapolis was testing the waters. Noussaman walked the route before riding. He entered the Sport race - his first on a fat bike, but far from his first mountain bike race or his first time at Carver Lake Park Off-Road Cycling Trail.

“I’m just out here to not ever wreck,” Nossaman said, “and to have a good time.”

About 200 racers participated, and a crowd formed around the bonfire, registration tent and coffee hosted by Angry Catfish Bicycle Shop and Coffee Bar, the Potter’s Pasties food truck, and Lake Monster Brewing kegs. The city of Woodbury, 45NRTH, Quality Bike Products, Advocate Cycles and Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists contributed to the success of the event, organizers said.

Brendan Bellew won the Elite race with a time of 1 hour, 29 minutes, 15.1 seconds, followed by Jeffrey Young and Barry Tungseth. April Morgan paced the Elite women, finishing at 1:40:39.7. She was followed by Sonia Pond and Chelsea Strate.

In the Sport race, Jeff Tollefson (36:54.0), Mike Grace and Troy Peterson led the way. Among women in the Sport race, Ridge Pidde (38:45.8) was followed by Erika Sawinski and Tiana Johnson.

For the McDonalds, the point of mountain biking is “whole family fun,” Chad McDonald said. “Fat bikes - it’s a way to extend it into the winter. And it’s good exercise.”

Chad McDonald is an ambassador for the sport, not only within his family, but across western Wisconsin.

He coaches St. Croix Composite, a 35-member team out of Hudson, Wis., and the surrounding area that competes in the Minnesota State High School League. Thirty other kids compete via a club team in the summertime.

With the right gear and the right group with whom to ride, mountain biking is a sport that can be for everyone, Chad McDonald said. The high school team and club don’t ride in the winter.

“Winter is just something our family does,” Chad McDonald said. “You don’t get cold out here, do you?”

His son shook his head and got ready to ride.